Video of hospital clash between woman, cop shown in court
Detroit — Video from a Detroit police officer's body-worn camera that showed a violent clash between a cop and a naked mentally-ill woman was played in court Wednesday.
Detroit Police Cpl. Dewayne Jones is accused of assaulting Shelby Smith on Aug. 1 in Detroit Receiving Hospital. The 18-year police veteran had his preliminary examination in 36th District Court, although the two-hour hearing was halted after two witnesses testified.
The exam is scheduled to continue at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 10 to determine if Jones will stand trial on charges of common law offenses and assault and battery. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.
After Detroit Police Chief James Craig saw the body-cam video, he called the alleged incident "disturbing," suspended Jones and launched a criminal investigation.
About 20 minutes of the video from the camera worn by Jones' partner, Officer Stacey Taylor, was shown in District Judge Cylenthia LaToye Miller's courtroom.
The video starts with Jones and Taylor responding to a "lewd and lascivious" run.
"We got a call that there was a naked woman standing near Grand River and Trumbull," Taylor testified.
In the video, the 29-year-old Smith is seen standing on the street corner without any clothes. She says: "Sunday we’re going to tear that God d____ church up. I want to marry y’all. I love you so God d____ much. I done took my clothes off. Daddy, I love you so much.” Then she starts singing.
"Let's get you some clothes, Shelby," Jones is heard saying.
When asked her name, Smith tells the officers it's Shameka Hollins.
The video doesn't show Smith getting aggressive until they're in the triage area at Detroit Receiving Hospital, when she begins cussing at hospital staff and the officers, and threatening to kill them.
When Smith stands up, Jones apparently tries to calm her down, telling her, "Relax." Jones tries to grab her arm, which she's waving, and she spits at him.
A struggle ensues, and Jones hits her multiple times with his fist. The two grapple for a few seconds before Jones wrestles Smith against the wall. Eventually, she is restrained, although she continues screaming and cussing.
Assistant prosecutor Joshua Holman said he counted that Jones hit Smith 12 times.
During her testimony, Taylor said police are taught the "use of force continuum," which with provides officers with guidelines about how much force may be used against a person who is resisting.
Holman asked Taylor: “Do you believe Cpl. Jones’ behavior was reasonable in this case?"
Taylor replied: “Yes.”
Taylor said she believed her partner followed the proper use of force continuum by first giving the woman verbal commands, saying he only resorted to physical force when she didn't comply.
Under redirect, Taylor said Jones was the only officer to strike the woman.
The first witness to take the stand Wednesday was Detroit Medical Center Police Officer Michael Hardemon, who was on duty the night of the incident, but was initially in an adjacent room. He said he heard Smith cussing and went next door to find out what the commotion was.
"I remember Officer Jones telling her to sit down," he said. "I told her to calm down and relax, but she got louder.
"She stands up in a threatening position," Hardemon said. "Then she spits and bit me in my leg .. and forearm. I tried to have her sit down in the chair; that's when she bit me on my thigh. I grabbed her and tried to pin her head down.
"The officer struck her in the side," Hardemon said of Jones. "It was few times; 3-4 times. I didn't count. I had grabbed her arm, but she got away from me; that's when Officer Jones had to control her. His partner tried to help."
Jones' attorney Pamella Szydlak asked Hardemon whether Jones tried to de-escalate the situation before resorting to physical measures.
"Yes," Hardemon said. "But she continued being combative."
When the hearing reconvenes, Holman said he may call one more witness before resting the prosecution's case.